I have been thinking about this line from a Denise Levertov poem all week: what we desire travels with us. This is true, I think, across distances, across time, across differing levels of maturity or growth.
When I was a teenager, I spent one evening hanging out at the home of my best friend’s mother’s best friend. Four women, two teens and two in their 50s, bonding over canned peppers (we tasted mild, hot, and fiery) and the ways we experienced our gender. I’ve never forgotten that night, and I still desire time with my women friends, times of support and solidarity and sisterhood.
Last weekend, my cousin visited and when we got up on Sunday morning, we talked and laughed over a pot of coffee. Some of my favorite moments have been these unremarkable early morning coffee-klatches with family or friends. I love a solitary and reflective cup of coffee at the local coffee shop, but I still desire the unguarded and open moments of sharing before beginning the day’s tasks.
My friend Sue is a talented basket weaver and jewelry maker. “I just want someone to do this with me,” she regularly laments, explaining why she hasn’t created anything lately. I totally understand her dilemma, because my whole life I have desired the same — companions nearby who share my interests and schedule, who will just be physically present with me while we do our things.
There are transient desires in my life as well…sometimes I think I need this thing or that gadget. Good Will has benefitted greatly from the purchases made while experiencing these impulses (a brown down coat that made me resemble a human-sized turd; the “Twilight” book series; a host of neon-colored plastic baubles). But the lasting desires remain steady, even if the surface details change. An endless summer day that winds down to a magical moonlit night is timeless, though the activities it contains may vary over the years. The love of dear people who know us intimately is deeply desired, though each relationship takes on its own unique character.
Like the nautilus, that lovely “living fossil”, we carry our homes with us — though theirs is literal and ours is a figurative home. As the nautilus shell curves inward, into ever smaller chambers, so do our desires: as we strip away the outer details, we find ever smaller kernels of desire for which our hearts truly long. And these desires are the companions of our lifes journeys, whether we acknowledge them or not. What I am learning, on my journey, is that it is acknowledging what we desire, without judging ourselves or our worthiness, that brings us closest to satisfying our heart’s deepest wishes.